Lifeboat is one of my favorite films from Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense. It is intriguing because this boat is like one huge set, and it has to hold our interest for the duration of the film. It is a tough challenge. Some of it does not always work because this boat seems almost too big as it allows the characters to move around quite a bit, even alluding to the concept of privacy, but the implication of privacy does not work for me. Lifeboats are only so big.
The action begins after the action that caused the lowering of lifeboats to happen, so we really do not see the environment and have to pick up on it as the movie progresses.
This does lead to a magnificent opening where we first see the lifeboat and in it is one person, dressed to the nines, in the form of Tallulah Bankhead, who plays Constance ‘Connie’ Porter. It is quite a site, and it is exactly what Hitchcock wanted.
One by one, we meet the rest of the cast as they find their way to this one lifeboat and struggle to survival. Quickly, we learn it is the middle of the war, and some of the survivors are German.
The ensemble cast includes William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Henry Hull, John Hodiak, Mary Anderson, and Hume Cronyn.
Many of the happenings within this movie are not necessarily easy to watch. This is wartime, and people are fighting to survive a nightmare. Some make desperate and even evil choices, and others suffer for it. That is one of the reasons this movie is not for kids. It can be very upsetting as different portions of the plot transpire.
On the other hand, seeing how Hitchock manages to work his way into his standard cameo is a hoot. This director loved to do ingenious walk on bits in his movies, but when the action is all in the ocean, doing a cameo is tough. However, he did, and looking for that is one of the highlights.
Lifeboat is definitely a classic, and the cast all deliver solid performances.